Film Blog: Janapar’s First Private Screening

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Late on Saturday afternoon, James and I walked gingerly onstage in the Royal Geographical Society’s Ondaatje Theatre. Around 200 people sat in the audience — a handful of family, friends, fellow adventurers and cyclists, and a large proportion of the delegates from the RGS’ “Explore” annual seminar.

I thanked those in attendance for coming. I made a little joke. People laughed. This itself was reassuring: I utterly hate public speaking. James introduced himself as the producer-director, introduced the film, and we made our escape before outstaying our welcome. Then the film began.

78 minutes later we mounted the stage once again as the rolling credits vanished from the top of the screen. The lights came up. The crowd erupted and the entire audience raised up in a standing ovation. I had no idea what the appropriate response was supposed to be, and so I stumbled around in a fog of adrenaline. The clapping seemed to last for hours. I found myself giving James a massive hug under the spotlights. James said something to those assembled in the auditorium, but I can’t remember what it was.

The applause continued and we stepped down. For some reason I found myself sitting back down in my seat, as if the film was going to continue. My legs had turned to jelly. I can’t remember ever feeling such a mixture of terror, elation and sheer bewilderment. A very senior member of the RGS came over and told us to treasure this moment, because he’d never seen anything like it. “This never happens”, he said.

This all probably sounds rather vain. That’s not my intention. Having put travelling on the back-burner, I set out to write about the production of this film. I’d still be writing this article if it had fallen flat. But it’s relief that I feel right now, more than anything else; the culmination of 5 years of travail was put to the acid test, and it passed.

If the film goes no further than this, I’ll still be overjoyed. Sharing the story was a big objective from the word go, back in 2007, and after all the blog posts and short videos since then, the chance to finally tell a fully-formed story to a room full of real people was an enormous breath of fresh air!

A long journey still lies ahead. Whether or not the film goes on to be a commercial success seems of little importance compared with the potential it seems to have to move people emotionally.

I wish I could have extended the invitation to that private screening to all the readers of this blog, some of whom have been reading for several years, but tedious bureaucracy prevented me from doing so. Please bear with me; it won’t be too long before there’s a ‘real’ trailer online, and screenings will hopefully follow in the New Year, as well as a DVD and digital release. In the meantime, here’s a pre-trailer teaser of the film — a really early snippet of material that James has put together.


Check out the film’s new micro-site at Huge thanks to John Summerton for designing it for us.

Comments (skip to respond)

16 responses to “Film Blog: Janapar’s First Private Screening”

  1. I’m a big fan.

    How about a charity launch screening so the common man like me can come and watch, give you a high five and leave inspired?

  2. Tony Freeman avatar
    Tony Freeman

    Hi Tom,
    A great look-see, Richard said it’s good, and he is right, I can’t wait to see the full length showing. Love the honey monster!

  3. Definitely a good idea for future viewings although if you had I think I there may have been some tears in the audience (including mine)!

  4. Hi Tom
    I was luck enough to be one of those 200 at the RGS last Saturday evening. The film is fantastic, I was really truly moved at the end. I think you spoke with my wife Fi on the Sunday afternoon, she also loved the film. The question of the day was ‘Is Tenny here? Everyone was looking to see if she was with you. You’re a lucky man she seems adorable. Loved the guy on the back of the truck in Yemen who gave you the thumbs up! Good luck with the film and congratulations to you and James.

    1. Thank you Jamile for the kind words and glad you enjoyed it. Tenny was indeed there on the Saturday! It was rather chaotic afterwards and we both suddenly had rather a lot of people to talk to. Wish I’d had the presence of mind to bring her up on stage after the film 🙁

  5. Hi Tom. Why isn’t this on WorldCycle Videos yet?

  6. Awesome! I can’t wait to see more of this. Great job, Tom. Any ideas on a release date to the US?

  7. Nice Tom! I’m so stoked for you..and the films website looks good, beautiful title text.

    1. Thanks in large part to you! And Tenny designed the title. Lovely collaboration…

  8. Congratulations Tom!
    I’m so looking forward to the release of this movie…
    I hope you’re releasing it in HD, but even if not, you can definitely put me on the list of people who would buy it 🙂

    1. I would love to release it in HD, but I didn’t film it in HD…

      (Nobody noticed!)

  9. So what are the plans on releasing this to a wider audience? I’ve been really looking forward to seeing this for quite some time.

    1. I’ll cover this in a blog post shortly. It’s a bit complicated!

  10. Excellent! Congratulations with the success.

  11. great to hear that the film was so well received! once it gets out to the wider public, please please please find a way to make it accessible to folks outside the uk in not-really-that-far-but-far-from-everything-else places, i’d love to see it as well!
    all the best from the rainy polar winter, fruchtzwerg

    1. With the advent of digital distribution and other new models, it shouldn’t be too difficult. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all pans out, and I promise we’ll find a way to do that. (There’s always DVDs and international post as well!)

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